by Mark Davis

   PGA Drives It Home To Capture Three-Year-Old Championship
   This evening's performance kicks off Championship competition as 11 sets of roses will be distributed and 11 riders dreams of riding under the spotlight in Shelbyville come true.  The invocation for the evening was given by The Rev. Mark Ashley, pastor of the Cannon Blvd. United Methodist Church, Shelbyville, Tenn.  Gary Hale of Shelbyville, Tenn did a masterful job with the National Anthem.  
   Everyone was glad to see Vern Serex back in center ring to call the Championship classes with his horns.  Vern was absent from the 2004 Celebration and was most certainly missed.
   The first Championship of the evening was class 135, Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-17 on Walking Ponies, World Grand Championship.  Sixteen entries made the call to work for the tri-colors under the watch of Judge Stephen Brown and staff.  Making their Celebration dream a reality, owner/exhibitor Morgan LeGate of Brentwood, Tenn. rode perennial World and World Grand Champion Final Keeper to the winner's circle.  This duo topped the Youth Rider 6-14 World Championship on Friday evening.  Key West and Andy Adkins, World Champions in the 15-17 division, captured the reserve title for Angie Ezell of Etheridge, Tenn.  Taking the third award back to the Bluegrass state, Gen All The Way and Mandie Napier made the solid performance for Tim Napier of Union, Ky.
   Nine exciting entries made the call for class 136, 15.2 and Under Walking Horse World Grand Championship.  Judge Mack Motes called the gaits in the division.  This class may have been smaller than the first, but it featured some of the industry's very best contenders with seven of the nine being current or past World Champions or National Futurity champions.  After topping their preliminary on Monday evening, Black Cash Delight and Bill Bobo put forth another extraordinary display of talent to capture the World Grand Championship title for Judy McDonald of Tullahoma, Tenn.  Receiving a cheer from the crowd, He's Wild Eyed and Wicked and Knox Blackburn were a strong reserve for Mike, Amy & Taylor Walden of Chattanooga, Tenn.  London Rain and Chad Baucom were third for Charles Clark of Charlotte, N.C.
   The magic number was nine once again as nine competitors hit the track in class 137, Plantation Pleasure Walking Horses, Lite Shod, World Grand Championship (Canter).  Judge Mike Sims served as call judge for the division.  Double certainly was the word for Scott Benham and Double Java as they made it a double in the division returning to the winner's circle for the second consecutive year for The Mike Chiappari Family of Santa Rosa, Calif.  With this win, the duo retired The Steve Merrill & Edgar D. Hodge Memorial Challenge Trophy and The THWBEA Challenge Trophy.  Pusher's Beaming Pride and Howard Hamilton, past World Grand Champions in their own right, captured reserve for Jim & Debbie Nichols of New Market, Tenn.  Jamey Thompson and Joltin' Joe Dimaggio were third for Gary & Carleen Redman of Fontana, Calif.
   The riders age 50 & Over were up next for class 138, Elite Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Horses World Grand Championship.  Eleven made their way down the hill to work for the chance to ride under the spotlight as Judge Sam Sorrell led the panel in the event.  This was another exciting division of championship competition pitting some of the industry's finest contenders head to head.  Hitting it out of the park for the second consecutive year was John F. K's Pusher and Robin MacDonald making that memorable ride for Bruce & Robin MacDonald of Atlanta, Ga. & Shelbyville, Tenn.  Back to back classes with back to back winners on Thursday night!  With this win John F. K's Pusher and Robin retire The Abb & Verna Walters Memorial Challenge Trophy, The Gladys S. Owen Memorial Challenge Trophy and The Hershel Talley Memorial Challenge Trophy.  The duo made their way back to the winner's circle by picking up a win in the Elite Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Stallions division.  Elite Owner-Amateur Gentlemen Riders World Champion Jazz King and Ed Breedlove made a stellar performance to bring home the reserve honors for Keith Breedlove of Buford, Ga.  Pushin' That Jazz and Laura Brandon, World Champion Elite Owner-Amateur Lady Riders on Walking Mares or Geldings winner, rode to the third award for Wallace & Laura Brandon of Franklin, Tenn.
   After Robin & Homer headed back up the hill, there was a short break in the action for A Celebration Moment, a relatively new Celebration tradition where the names of family and friends who have passed away since the previous year's Celebration are read by Celebration Mule Show announcer Mark Ashley with the lights dimmed in the big oval.  It truly has become a very special moment.
   When the lights came back up, it was time for Vern Serex to call the young riders to the ring, 24 strong, for class 139, Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 6-11 Years on Walking Mares or Geldings World Grand Championship.  Judge Rollie Beard called the gaits in the event.  Once the work was complete, the lights went dim and the spotlight searched the extra large division looking for who the next Youth 11 and Under World Grand Champion would be.  That honor would be bestowed upon a young lady who had made the ride before, Miss Maisie McSwain and The American General.  Maisie topped the division at the 2002 Celebration with Gen's Sundance Lady retiring The Hometown Favorite Challenge Trophy and the T.N. Summitt Memorial Challenge Trophy.  She also made history last Friday night by topping both divisions of the Owner-Amateur Youth Riders 11 and Under on Walking Geldings for the second consecutive  year with The American General and Armed To Show.  The American General is owned by The Dan McSwain Family of Atlanta, Ga.  Taking the reserve honors back to Virginia, Miss Dumas Ebony and Lindsay Hess were impressive in the ride they made for Lindsay Hess of Harrisonburg, Va.  Novice 11 and Under World Champions, Bold Stroke's Attraction and Hailey Puckett of Wartrace, Tenn. were third.
   The trail pleasure entries took to the big oval next, 25 strong, for class 140, the Owner-Amateur English Trail Pleasure World Grand Championship.  Judge Stephen Brown led the panel in the event.  After making several outstanding performances throughout the week, Gold Coin In Dixie and Dr. Judy Moore rode to the ultimate honor for Moore & Foust Farm of Shelbyville, Tenn.  Push N For Pleasure and Patti Pollack were reserve for Pollack's Silver Spur Ranch of San Martin, Calif.  Doc's Takin' Charge and Victoria Martocci were back in the big oval to pick up third for Rhonda Martocci of Franklin, Tenn.
   Class 141 brought the Owner-Amateur Riders on Show Pleasure Walking Horses World Grand Championship to the ring.  Judge Mack Motes called the gaits in the division.  Once again, when the work was complete,  the spotlight searched for a champion in the division when it finally stopped, announcer Chip Walters called the team of Ironworks Tin Man and Grant Jones to victory lane for Ray Jones Trucking of Greenville, Ky.  The beautiful gray, sired by Plantation Pleasure WGC Ironworks, preceded this win with titles at Shelbyville, Tenn's Walking To Make A Difference, Belfast, Tenn.'s Lions Club Horse Show and the Wartrace, Tenn. Horse Show.  The duo also claimed the preliminary World Championship in the Novice Show Pleasure division on Wednesday morning.  Insomnia and Keith Johnson, always a popular pair, rode to the reserve title for Cartwright & Johnson of Shelbyville, Tenn.  San Juan and Eric Lackey were third for Mr. & Mrs. Eric Lackey of High Point, N.C.
   Vern Serex got the crowd in the western way with the Lone Ranger theme as the call was out for class 142, Western Plantation Pleasure Walking Horses, Lite Shod, World Grand Championship (Canter).  Ten entries worked under the watchful eye of Judge Mike Sims and staff hoping they would make their Celebration dreams a reality tonight.  It really was a dream come true for Leigh Bennett and A Style File as they made a very stylish performance in true western elegance to top the division for The Chip Carrier Family of Franklin, Ky.  Perennial champion Genius Dixie Chick and Trish Wooten were reserve for Stonegait Farms of Orange, Calif.  Drop The Hammer and trainer Bobby Richards rode to the third award for Rhonda Martocci of Franklin, Tenn.
   Back in the performance horse division, announcer Chip Walters called class 143, Owner-Amateur Riders on Walking Horses, 15.2 and Under, World Grand Championship to the big oval.   Eleven entries made the call to work as Judge Sam Sorrell led the panel.  Making the outstanding performance to top the division was the 12-time World Champion Gen's Color Me In and a very happy Kim Sisk making the memorable ride to the winner's circle for The G.R. Trumble Family of Walton, Ky.  The team garnered their preliminary win in the Owner Amateur Riders on Walking Geldings division earlier in the week.  Nancy Groover and her beloved mare, Texas Salsa, a World Champion from Tuesday evening performance, returned tonight to pick up the reserve honors for Wink & Nancy Groover of Longview, Texas.  The Phantom Menace and Thom Meek were third for Deerwood Manor of Brentwood, Tenn.
   Four of the seven entries with reservations made the gate for class 144, Park Pleasure Walking Horse World Grand Championship (Canter).  Judge Rollie Beard and the panel attentively watched each of the teams working for the tri colors .  When the work was complete, it was the team of A Greater Generator and Jennifer Hankins riding to the winner's circle for Leo & Mary Martin of Eldon, Mo.  This duo preceeded this title with wins at Panama City, Fla.'s Gulf Coast Charity Celebration, Columbia, Tenn.'s Spring Jubilee and Murfreesboro, Tenn.'s International Grand Championships.  Capturing the strong reserve was Dragonfire and Jamey Thompson up for Jim & Cindi Heiting/Riverside's Summit Ranch of Riverside, Calif.  Gen's Sundancer and Jeff Givens were third for Ken & Charlene Petty & The Jeff Givens Family of Woodbury & Murfreesboro, Tenn.
   With that, it was time for the highlight of the evening, class 145, the Three-Year-Old World Grand Championship.  Thirteen entries made the call to work as Judge Stephen Brown called the gaits in the division.  The crowd of 19,084, the second largest ever on a Thursday night at The Celebration, each had their favorite picked out and cheered them on along the way.  After one final running walk, the entries were brought to the line up for the careful deliberation of the panel.  
   When the cards were all marked, announcer Chip Walters called the team of PGA and John Allan Callaway , 2004 Two-Year-Old World Grand Champions and 2005 World Champion Three-Year-Old Stallion, to the winner's circle for Jimmy Bratcher and Robbie Lanier of Mansfield, Ga.  Showing to the reserve title,with a roar from the crowd, was Star and Jackie McConnell.  The entry owned by Opal Moody of Batesville, Ark. topped the Three-Year-Old Stallion, Div. B earlier in the week.  Casino At The Ritz and Knox Blackburn were third for Moore & Walden of Catherine, Ala. & Ooltewah, Tenn.
   Prior to 11:00 pm, the first evening of Championship action was in the history books.  Friday evening, 10 more World Grand Champions will be crowned leading up to the Junior World Grand Championship and of course, Saturday night action will be highlighted by the Two-Year-0ld World Grand Championship and "The Granddaddy Of Them All," the Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Championship.
   The action's exciting and history's being made . . .Don't miss a moment.